Phillip and his family are on the island of Curacao. They are not native to the island. Phillip and his family are originally from the United States, but Phillip doesn't remember much about it. He was only seven when his family moved to the island. Phillip is now eleven, and World War II is escalating to the point where Phillip's family no longer feels safe on the island. They decide to head back to the United States.
The ship that they board will take them to Miami, Florida; however, that is not their final destination. Phillip's final destination is Norfolk, Virginia. Unfortunately, the ship that he is on gets torpedoed, and Phillip is forced to survive on a small cay with Timothy.